Historical Harp Society of Ireland

Monday, April 18, 2016

The 14th annual 
Scoil na gClairseach—Summer School of Early Irish Harp 
17-23 August 2016

NEW VENUE 

From our very first summer school, in 2003, Scoil na gCláirseach has generously been hosted each year by Kilkenny School of Music. The HHSI wishes to thank Philip Edmondson, Director, for his generosity to us, and for so many memorable years at KSM.

Scoil na gCláirseach 2016 will take place in our new, historic venue: 

St. Kieran’s College
College Rd.
Kilkenny
Co. Kilkenny 

on the opposite side of the road, and just a little further out, from where we’ve been in the past.

Founded in 1782, St. Kieran’s is situated on a wonderful, spacious campus with ample free parking for students arriving by car, and quick access by foot to shops, restaurants, tourist attractions and accommodation.

Kilkenny is a medieval city which has a rich heritage of fine historical buildings, a great choice of restaurants, wonderful shops, lively night-life, and is an all year round tourist destination. Within 90 minutes of Dublin airport, the city is serviced with an intercity bus service and rail link. The nearest ferry port is Rosslare. For further information please see the Kilkenny City & County website.

WHERE TO STAY

In-house, self-catering accommodation - at very reasonable rates - is available at St. Kieran’s College, in the purpose-built facility on the campus. The rooms are single [some with private bathroom; some with shared bathroom], with communal living areas and kitchen facilities. Please contact us for more information or if you would like to reserve a room.

Also free free to design your own accommodation package for your stay in Kilkenny: from the budget-priced Kilkenny Tourist Hostel (do tell them that you are coming to study with us; they know us well and will look after you!) to friendly B&Bs and guest houses all the way to beautiful luxury hotels. More info from visitkilkenny.ie.

More information on all aspects of Scoil na gCláirseach—Summer School of Early Irish Harp can be found here

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Director's Report - Scoil na gCláirseach 2015



People are saying it was our best year yet! Scoil na gClairseach—Summer School of Early Irish Harp 2015 was officially opened on 19th August by our patron, Jane Carter. We had teenage and adult students from as far away as the USA, Russia and Japan, together with UK and continental students, local and other Irish participants. They ranged from those who had never touched a musical instrument before to professional players.

FORMAT
The Scoil saw a shake-up to its format this year, which seemed to work very well: Each day until lunchtime, Sylvia Crawford (North of Ireland) tutored the Basic Tunes and Techniques class. Assistant Scoil director, Simon Chadwick (Scotland), added to his in-house lecturer role this year by being the main class tutor for the Manuscript Sources and Theoretical Concepts class, while I concentrated on teaching the Advanced Tunes and Reconstructions class. Ann Heymann (USA) worked with both the Tunes and Manuscripts classes, gave individual time to students whom we felt could benefit from that, and also became our main Masterclass tutor, giving both public and private masterclasses.

LECTURES AND TALKS
In the afternoons and evenings we had presentations given by an array of prestigious, visiting scholars, who joined the in-house staff in presenting papers, more informal talks and workshops. Virginia Blankenhorn, from Edinburgh University, joined us for the first time, giving us a particularly interesting talk on singing poetry well (and badly!) in Irish. Carrying on the vocal theme, we felt fortunate to have Connemara sean-nós singer Róisín Elsafty teach the students a harper’s song in Irish this year, at our Song workshop, from her growing collection of this repertoire.

Piper Ronan Browne gave one of the most interesting Scoil presentations we’ve had in recent years: guiding us through 17 archive recordings of traditional Irish musicians from the 1890s onwards. Some of these performers were born in the 1830s so they were not very many generations removed from the world of the late 18th-century Irish harpers. Some eureka moments to be had in comparing these performances with the evidence of early Irish harp performance practice captured in Edward Bunting’s MS transcriptions from the harpers of a few decades before.

We were really delighted to welcome American harpist and scholar, Nancy Hurrell, to the Scoil for the first time this year. Nancy gave a lively and erudite presentation on the harps built for the students of the early 19th-century early Irish harp revival societies. We all look forward to her book on the work of the talented harp builder John Egan, who worked and invented tirelessly in the early decades of the 19th century.

Karen Loomis gave us her latest, fascinating insights into the organological world of the Lamont and Queen Mary harps, which she has been studying now for some years. I warmly congratulate her on her recent award of a PhD in the area of early Irish harp studies, the very first Scoil attendee to progress this far. We interrupted her talk to celebrate the great event with bubbly!

We were delighted that, in addition to student players, we had local, national and international auditors, including for one day, early Irish harper and harp builder, Paul Dooley, who is nearing completion of a PhD at the University of Limerick.

FOOD
We were treated to five outstanding lunches by our cook, Pat Glavin, who is our secret inverse pied piper, enticing students towards us rather than away from us! Mexican day, Indonesian day, French day complete with cheeseboard etc…I accept that some students may be coming back, year after year, simply for the stunning home-cooking!

 FIELD TRIP
We had our annual, fascinating trip to Dublin on the last day, to pore over, examine in detail and photograph many of the surviving harps held in museum collections.

Our complete timetable of events can be seen here:
http://www.irishharpschool.com/timetable.htm

CONCERTS
Ann Heymann  and I gave in-house solo concerts during the Scoil. In addition, thanks to the largesse of the Arts Council’s Deis Traditional Arts funding scheme, the HHSI was able to present a public concert in Kilkenny, during the summer school, as part of our greater HHSI Summer Concert Series 2015, which took us to Galway, Dublin, and for the very first time, Belfast, in the days after Scoil na gCláirseach.


The Connemara sean-nós singer, Róisín Elsafty, joined myself and Ann on this tour around Ireland, performing 17th- and 18th-century harpers’ songs. Ronan Browne was also a concert performer this year, playing music from the Bunting MSS on his unique 1760 Kenna pipes.

To get a flavour of the 2015 summer school, you can shortly have a look at our photo album here, once we upload a selection of photos:   http://www.irishharpschool.com/2015/photos

You can also visit us at http://www.irishharp.org, where you can see the lovely promo short that cinematographer Carlo d'Alessandro and the Scottish company, Siubhal, put together about our summer school.

I would like to thank the following people for their help and support with Scoil na gCláirseach—Summer School of Early Irish Harp 2015:

An Comhairle Ealaíon/The Arts Council who have financially supported us through their Festivals and Deis schemes; Music Network and The Dept. of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, who have funded the purchase of harps for our student performers; our patron Jane Carter, and the Supporters and Members, who kindly support our work. Our complete Supporters list can be seen here: http://www.irishharp.org/supporters.htm

Our thanks to Jennifer Gough and The National Museum of Ireland; The Guinness Storehouse; The Old Library, Trinity College Dublin; Philip Edmondson and Kilkenny School of Music; John O’Neill and St. Mary’s Cathedral, Kilkenny; Catherine O’Connor, OPW and the parish of St. Audoen’s Church, Dublin; Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast; Galway Arts Centre; Maura Uí Chróinín and Galway Early Music; Jury’s Inn, Christchurch, Dublin; Kilkenny County Council, Fáilte Ireland and IPB INsurance; John Elwes; Oisín Hahessy.

I would also like to give my most heartfelt thanks to the incredibly hard-working HHSI team behind Scoil na gCláirseach and the HHSI Summer Concert Series: HHSI Hon. Sec. and Scoil Assistant Director, Simon Chadwick; Sylvia Crawford, Treasurer and Administration;  and Natalie Surina, PR and Administration.

Finally, I would like to thank each student and auditor who joined us in Kilkenny, making the whole week possible.

Best wishes,

Siobhán Armstrong

Director, Scoil na gCláirseach—Summer School of Early Irish Harp
www.irishharpschool.com

Chair, Historical Harp Society of Ireland
www.irishharp.org


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Director's Report - Scoil na gCláirseach 2014

Director Siobhán Armstrong,
Assistant Director Simon Chadwick,
and Lecturer Karen Loomis
International historical harpists Ann Heymann, Siobhán Armstrong, Andrew Lawrence-King and Javier Sáinz, together with new tutor, Sylvia Crawford, were our staff tutors this year at the twelfth Scoil na gClairseach—Summer School of Early Irish Harp. Scoil Assistant Director, Simon Chadwick, was also our in-house staff lecturer. He was joined by guest lecturers Karen Loomis, Paul Dooley and Ite O'Donovan. We heard many interesting papers, performances and experienced lively workshops and masterclasses in addition to each day's intensive tuition and late-night music making!
Young students studying diligently!

Our 21 enthusiastic students came from three continents: from Kilkenny people to visitors from Japan. We had teenagers to retired people, total beginners to professional performers, graded in classes appropriate to them.

Highlights of the year for me included Karen Loomis's lecture on her latest work on the Queen Mary and Lamont harps at the National Museum of Scotland; Thomas Zapf's demonstration of his working replica of the chromatic Irish 'Cloyne' harp and Simon Chadwick's talk on what he had uncovered about the life and music of 18th century Scottish harper-composer, Raghnall Mac Ailein Òig. You can see the complete timetable of events here:
http://www.irishharpschool.com/timetable.htm

The public concert in the Chapter
House of St Mary's Cathedral
We heard the wonderful voice of young sean-nós singer Aodán Ó Ceallaigh for the first time at our public concert in Kilkenny, and our advanced song class students got to benefit from tuition time with him. Uilleann piper Ronan Browne joined us as a concert performer once again this year and ravished us with performances of the old laments Caoine Uí Dhonaill and Caoine Uí Néill on his unique 1760 Kenna pipes.

To get a flavour of the 2014 summer school, have a look at our photo album here:   http://www.irishharpschool.com/2014/photos/ You can also visit us at http://www.irishharp.org, where you can see the lovely promo short that cinematographer Carlo d'Alessandro and the Scottish company, Siubhal, put together about our summer school.

Ann Heymann leads a workshop
We had a relaxed trip to Dublin on the last day, to see and examine many of the surviving harps in museum collections.


I would like to thank the following people for their help and support:

An Comhairle Ealaíon/The Arts Council who have financially supported us through their Festivals scheme; Music Network  and The Dept. of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, who have funded the purchase of harps for us this year; our generous patron Jane Carter; and our other supporters and Society members, who kindly support our work. Our complete Members, Supporters and Patrons list can be visited here:http://www.irishharp.org/patrons.htm

I would like to thank Philip Edmondson  and  Kilkenny School of Music for our summer school venue and John O’Neill and St. Mary’s Cathedral for hosting our Kilkenny concert.

I would also like to give my most heartfelt thanks to the HHSI team behind our summer school and concert series: HHSI Hon. Sec. and Scoil Assistant Director, Simon Chadwick; Sylvia Crawford, our treasurer and administrative assistant,  and our PR officer, Natalie Surina.

Maura Uí Chróinín of Galway Early Music has our gratitude for the lovely concert poster design she made for us.
Our thanks also go to John Elwes and Oisín Hahessy for their kind logistical help. Finally, I would like to thank each student and auditor who joined us in Kilkenny, making the whole week possible.

Best wishes,

Siobhán Armstrong
Director, Scoil na gCláirseach—Summer School of Early Irish Harp

Monday, February 17, 2014

Join us in 2014 and get a special treat!


A chairde, 
The Historical Harp Society of Ireland wishes you and your loved ones our very best wishes for 2014. Our heartfelt thanks to all those of you who have helped and supported us in any way in 2013: we couldn't work to revive the building, studying and playing of Ireland's ancient harp without you. Our generous funding bodies, patrons, supporters, associate members and scholar members are listed here: http://www.irishharp.org/patrons.htm

FUNDRAISING
In order to achieve our goals for the next twelve months, we are busy fundraising. In addition to finding more grant aid, we would like to increase our membership at home and abroad. We're taking this opportunity to ask friends, current and past members, to join us in 2014.  By being a member, you will play a tangible part in the HHSI's work: helping to revive the ancient and illustrious instrument depicted in Ireland's national emblem, and helping to give back to the world a thousand years of Gaelic harp music, which might otherwise remain silent. 

MEMBERSHIP
Your membership fees help to fund the HHSI's concerts, lectures, online events, beginners' taster workshops, our groundbreaking library, and allow us to invest in researching and building replicas of historic Irish harps. Here's a reminder of our activities:

*Year round nationwide tuition for adults and children
*Talks, workshops and beginners' Taster Days
*The first ever Student Harp Bank of early Irish harps to rent to children and adults
*The first ever lending and reference library relating to early Irish harp and related culture and history
*The HHSI national Summer Concert Series presenting the best of Irish and international instrumentalists and singers working in the field of early Irish music
*The world's foremost summer school for the instrument: Scoil na gCláírseach—Summer School of Early Irish Harp
*An online shop for harps and CDs

Members receive updates on activities, and—in Ireland—have access to the HHSI library and can rent HHSI Student harps, if they are taking tuition with us. Membership fees are also deductible from any HHSI workshop / summer school fees payable in the year of membership.

Associate Membership costs €30 annually and runs from January to December each year. If you feel particularly enthusiastic about our work, you might even consider being a Supporter or Patron! All members are listed on the HHSI website, unless they wish to remain anonymous. You can join online or see other subscription options at http://www.irishharp.org/join.htm
SPECIAL MEMBERS' TREAT!  
For those of you who join / rejoin the Society before 14th February this year, we have a very special thank you: We can send you a web link to PDFs of Dr. Donal O'Sullivan's seminal work on the 18th century Irish harp manuscripts of Edward Bunting: The Bunting Collection of Irish Folk Music and Song issued by the Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society in the 1920s and 1930sThis indispensable and mammoth work—with transcriptions from the MSS and a wealth of scholarly information about each tune—has long been out of print and is well-nigh impossible to find.
SOME 2013 EVENTS
We had a very successful 10th Anniversary Summer Concert Series in Kilkenny, Dublin and Galway in August. This took place just after our 10th Anniversary Scoil na gClairseach—Summer School of Early Irish Harp 2003-2013. You can read about both here: http://www.irishharp.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/2013-directors-report.html     

MUSIC NETWORK AWARD
We are delighted to announce that the HHSI has been awarded more than €7,000 from the Arts Council through Music Network's Music Capital Scheme 2013. This will enable us to commission student replicas of the 18h century Mullaghmast and Rose Mooney harps, half of which will be built here in Ireland. We are excited and encouraged to receive this award and to be able to support Irish-based harp building. Such ground-breaking work would be impossible without the generous support of our Members, who enable us to contribute the required 25% self-funding of these projects.

SCOIL NA gCLAIRSEACH 2014
We've already taken the first bookings for our twelfth Scoil na gClairseach—Summer School of Early Irish Harp, which takes place 13th-19th August 2014 in Kilkenny. Our faculty is drawn from the world's leading historical harpists and scholars in the field. If you can, do come and join us—raw beginners to experts—from four continents, for a week of intensive tuition, lectures, masterclasses and serious amounts of fun! Please visit us here: http://www.irishharpschool.com You can see a PDF of our printed flyer / app. form here: http://www.irishharpschool.com/flyer.pdf Online booking details here: http://www.irishharpschool.com/booking.htm 

To get a flavour of the 2013 summer school, have a look at our photo album here:   http://www.irishharpschool.com/2013/photos/ You can also visit us at http://www.irishharp.org, where you can see the lovely promo short that cinematographer Carlo d'Alessandro and the Scottish company, Siubhal, put together about our summer school.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Scoil na gClairseach—Summer School of Early Irish Harp 2013 Director's Report

Photo: Pat Moore
Well, what an amazing 10th anniversary summer school we had this year! We celebrated Scoil na gClairseach 2003–2013 with a cake and bubbly at our opening reception and carried on with a celebratory 10th anniversary concert series in Kilkenny, Galway and Dublin, during and after the summer school, with all concerts either sold-out or close to that.

At the opening, we made presentations to our longest-serving students: Paul Best, who has attended ten out of eleven Scoileanna, and Barbara Karlik and Jim Johnston, who have been with us for nine out of the eleven. We’re touched by the faithfulness of our students, most of whom come back to us year on year.

Several ‘family’ members couldn’t be with us for various reasons this year. In their stead we greeted many new faces, from as far afield as New Zealand and Japan. We had twenty-one students in total, from ten countries [England, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, France, New Zealand, Austria, Russia], plus auditors each day.

Our students spanned the gamut from complete beginners who had never before touched a harp, to professional harpists who wanted to refine their skills on early Irish harp. We had more than our usual number of under-18s: five in total, which provided them with a fun peer group together.

This year’s timetable can be accessed here: http://www.irishharpschool.com/timetable.htm

Lecture highlights of 2013 include historian John Gray’s presentation on 18th century Belfast, which helped us put the Belfast Harpers’ Meeting into its social and political context; Jacopo Bisagni’s talk on the philology and organology of early Irish musical terminology and Simon Chadwick’s presentation of his latest work on the repertoire of Rose Mooney, Patrick Quin and other 18th century harpers. But, as ever, when Karen Loomis comes from Scotland to address us, she stole the show! Her presentation of the latest part of her doctoral work on the Queen Mary and Lamont harps (with a side-dish of interesting new information on the Trinity College harp) was breathtaking: she lead us through a presentation of her astonishingly rigorous work, and that of her scientific colleagues who examined and analysed historical wire samples found in the Lamont and Queen Mary harps, and who tested wood samples using scanning electron microscopy, to reveal that the soundboxes of both harps are constructed of willow, and not hornbeam, as had been conjectured for many decades.  This is such invaluable work, presented in a manner, which actually had many of us on the edge of our seats with suspense as Karen led us through her presentation. Thrilling stuff!

Our HHSI Summer Concert Series this year, entitled The Ancient Music of Ireland, presented me, Siobhán Armstrong, Ann Heymann and Andrew Lawrence King in concert, with guests Áine Ní Dhroighneáin, sean-nós song, and piper Ronan Browne. We were really pleased to sell out the Kilkenny concert in our new concert location: the newly renovated Chapter House of St. Mary’s Cathedral. Galway and Dublin concerts were very close to sold-out.

A musical highlight of this year’s concert series was to hear Ronan Browne play his 1760 Kenna Irish pipes set. I had never thought to hear 18th century Irish pipes, never mind a gorgeous set which were already being played more than thirty years before the Belfast Harpers’ Meeting of 1792 and which are still in beautiful condition and in very good hands.

Our field trip to Dublin felt very relaxed this year: we had a smaller number of field-trippers than usual and since we couldn’t access the harps in the National Museum in Collins Barracks, due to staff shortages there, we had a more leisurely time at other museums and libraries.

There are a number of people I’d like to thank for their help and support in the last number of weeks:

An Comhairle Ealaíon/The Arts Council who have financially supported us through their Festivals and Traditional Music schemes; Music Network  and The Dept. of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, who have funded the purchase of harps for us this year; our generous patron Jane Carter; and our other supporters and Society members, who kindly support our work. Our complete Members, Supporters and Patrons list can be visited here: http://www.irishharp.org/patrons.htm

We would like to thank Philip Edmondson  and  Kilkenny School of Music for our summer school venue and John O’Neill and St. Mary’s Cathedral for hosting our Kilkenny concert.

I would also like to give my most heartfelt thanks to the HHSI team behind our summer school and concert series: HHSI Hon. Sec. and Scoil Assistant Director, Simon Chadwick; our PR officer, Natalie Surina; and Sylvia Crawford, our newest administrative assistant; all three of whom have worked energetically, cheerfully and tirelessly for weeks now to ensure that everything came to pass smoothly and successfully.

Maura Uí Chróinín of Galway Early Music, has our gratitude for the lovely concert poster design she made for us and for her help in promoting the Galway leg of the Summer Concert Series.
And finally, our thanks go to John Elwes for his kind and generous logistical help.
Artwork: Hannah Amesso